Podcast Transcriptions

Pursue What Matters

Episode 35: Preparing for 2020 Part 2: Don’t Let Your Dreams Ruin Your Life

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Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
You’ve got big dreams, and that’s a great thing. But sometimes if you’re not careful, your dreams can weigh you down, overwhelming you and even preventing you from living the good life. They were designed to help you live. Oh boy, that’s not good. Join me as I help you plan 2020 without letting your plans or ruin your life.

Dr. Melissa Smith 0:26
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. Dreams are good, right? But what if your dreams adds so much pressure that you find yourself wanting to crawl under a rock and hide? Maybe your dreams aren’t working as intended. Today, we are going to continue our conversation from last week, as we’re in the middle of our three part podcast series, preparing for 2020. So if you haven’t yet listened to part one, purpose, what’s your vision for your life, definitely take some time and go back and listen to that podcast. So you are ready for today’s podcast. And I will link to last week’s podcast in today’s show notes. So you can find that easily. And now today, we are going to focus on part two, which is all about your path. So then, of course in next week, we will do part three, which is a focus on priorities, you’re overwhelmed. Now what we will break down goal setting so don’t panic, because I’ve definitely got you covered when it comes to goal setting. And I really want you to resist the urge to set new year’s resolutions, but it will help me with some goal setting that actually works.

Dr. Melissa Smith 2:10
But for today, let’s get back to our focus on your path. So what do I mean when I talk about the path? Well, if you remember from last week’s podcast, I talked about purpose and vision as the mountain. The mountain is in the distance, and sometimes it is covered in clouds. And you don’t always know exactly how to get to the mountain. But the mountain is steady and unmoving. You know where you are heading, you know the direction you are going with purpose. And you’re heading to the mountain, even if you can’t always see it clearly. So the path is the journey to the mountain. And it includes all of the steps required to get you to your vision, right to get you up the mountain. So purpose is your why that moves you along your path. And let’s just be honest about this. Sometimes the path just sucks it bites. It’s gritty, it’s grimy, it’s full of twists and turns and detours and dead ends and forks in the road. And right I mean not even a row just like a cow trail. And there may be many times where you can see the mountain way off in the distance. But you have no idea on earth how you are going to make it up the mountain. So from Cheryl Strayed, “I considered my options, there was only one that I knew. There was always only one: to keep walking.” And that’s what we need to do on the path. We just need to keep walking towards our vision. We just need to keep walking towards the mountain. This is the path, the path is daily life, the grind, all the daily steps and actions we must take to move us forward toward our purpose that most of the time while we were while we are on the path, there are definitely no grand vistas, no sweeping landscapes, right. I mean, we’re stuck in the brush. And bugs are biting at our legs and we’re tired and we’re hungry and we’re lost some of the time. And still we’ve got to find a way to keep moving forward. And so the path can be a real drag and don’t let anyone tell you any different.

Dr. Melissa Smith 4:43
The path is definitely the messy middle. And this totally reminds me of hiking so I’m a hiker. I love it. I live in the mountains and I did some hiking this summer with some dear friends from work. And we decided to climb Mount Olympus, which is a really beautiful peak in the Salt Lake Valley here in Utah. And it was a really fun and a really steep climb. So it’s it’s a very steep climb in a pretty short distance. And one of our hiking companions sprung a leak in her water bladder. And so her shorts were soaked the entire hike, which is not fun, that is not a great way to hike. And so she had to share water, the entire hike. So thank goodness for friends, right. And thank goodness for having plenty of water because she was able to share that wasn’t a problem. And then at one point, the bugs were so bad, I could hardly stand it. I mean, like we stopped to, you know, have some trail mix, or snack or something. And the bugs were just they were literally covering us. And I remember thinking to myself, if it continues to be this bad, I don’t know that the mountain peak will be worth it. Because the bugs were so bad, I don’t think I’d bet on a hike that had been that bad in a long time. But we had had a really wet spring. So I think that was part of it. And of course, then we had a really hard time seeing the trial at the top of the mountain. So we ended up scrambling our own way up the very steep mountain and it was kind of scary. So we did not follow the regular trial because we had a hard time seeing it. And so we kind of made our own path up the mountain. And so we were we were scrambling up really steep cliff, ledge. But here’s the thing, all the bugs, the web bombs, the leaky water bladders, and scrambling vertical walls, were totally worth it. When we made it to the peak of that gorgeous mountain, we had views of two beautiful valleys that no one else had, unless they also put in the work of climbing that 9000 foot peak.

Dr. Melissa Smith 7:01
So when you are at the peak of your mountain, I wouldn’t say that the hardships fall away. But they are put into perspective, you appreciate the views more because you know what it costs you to acquire them. And that is exactly how it is with life. It is the same with our dreams and with fulfilling purpose. Our paths are not meant to be easy. They’re full of challenges that will test our resolve to continue on. And this is why our vision matters. This is why having a deep sense of purpose matters. Because the path is so difficult. And because life is so full of challenges. So from Cheryl Strayed, “believe in the integrity and value of the jagged path. We don’t always do the right thing on our way to rightness.” And I really like this because our paths really are full of twists and turns. And we don’t always get it right. You know, we make mistakes, we fail we fall we trip sometimes we trip over ourselves. I mean, that happens a lot. And life is inherently challenging. But we also can make our path more challenging by the choices that we make. And this is why purpose matters because it can really help us on our path, right?

Dr. Melissa Smith 8:31
So there are ways that we can make our path more difficult than is necessary. Especially, you know, if we’re high achieving, if we’re people pleasing, if we’re perfectionistic. When you you know, when you take on a goal, you can feel such a strong sense of commitment, that if you’re not careful, you will sacrifice too much to the accomplishment of that goal. And I’ve definitely been guilty of that in my life. So if you’re not careful, you make yourself miserable in the process, or you lose sight of what really matters most. Or you undermine your health and well being along the way, or you make everyone else miserable in your pursuit of your goal. So it really is a balancing act when it comes to pursuing purpose, accomplishing goals and progressing on your path. This single minded pursuit of your dreams is a recipe for disaster. So you might well accomplish your dreams but everyone in your life might hate you and you might not have anyone to share your dreams with when you reach them. So you know you totally have to consider that. So balance really is the key when it comes to progressing along your path. 

Dr. Melissa Smith 9:54
So let’s help you progress on your path without letting your dreams ruin your life. That’s the goal. That’s the big goal. So it is possible. And I’ve got several solutions to help you with that. So solution one, remember that your path requires flexibility. Have you ever seen a path on a mounted trial, that is one straight line, they don’t exist. So I’ve spent a lot of time in the mountains, they don’t exist. That’s because paths must meander around creeks and trees and slopes and ridges. And your path is the same way, you must have flexibility and recognize that your path unfolds in front of you one step at a time. So this requires you to be alert and observant on your journey, so that you can be aware of what is ahead of you on your path. And so that you can first of all take advantage of opportunities, right, but it’s not your job to force life, to force dreams, or to force a path to fit. And I think this is really important, especially for those of us control freaks, right? I imagine there are a few of us listening, it’s not our job to force a path to fit as if you can, right, you can’t make a great oak tree move. So the path can lay straight. Right, as a hiker, you can’t do that. You’ve got to learn to be flexible and find a way to work around the oak tree. And by the way, that oak tree in your path may have a finger too to teach you if you can be open to the lessons. So let’s be open to the lessons be open to what the path has to show you. solution to trust the timing of your path. You can’t know the end from the beginning, life wasn’t meant to be rigidly controlled, and neither were your dreams. So recognize that there are times where you may need to push forward and times where you may need to pause. Both are important along your path. So you’ve got to learn to respect both. So times to push forward and times to pause can also be hard, especially for type A’s that are kind of always hard charging, but we need both times push forward times to pause. So from Cheryl Strayed, “when the path reveals itself, follow it.” So if we look to nature, right, we have, you know, It has this natural ebb and flow, it has times of growth. And then it has times of decay, right or regeneration. And that that is just the way of nature. And I think it’s absolutely is time, the way that we are as well, we have time periods of high growth. And then we have periods of rest and recovery and regeneration. And we need to learn to respect those patterns within ourselves as well. And so, you know, if you’re coming off of a period of high growth, respect that need for rest, recovery, renewal, regeneration. And that can be hard because sometimes we get addicted to the accomplishment, we get addicted to the growth.

Dr. Melissa Smith 13:43
I can say for myself, when I got done with my MBA program, it felt good, because it was like this big accomplishment. I got lots of props for that. And the period directly after my MBA was really difficult for me because I was like, now what, and I put a lot of pressure on myself for like, okay, what’s the next big goal? What’s the next big accomplishment? And the fact was, I was really tired after that two year program, because I was pushing really hard. I was also you know, running a business and I had a busy family. And, you know, my body and my mind, right? So my whole person needed to rest it needed to recover, it needed to regenerate. And that was mentally very hard for me to do because I I put pressure on myself to keep pushing hard, because I liked accomplishing. And so I really needed to respect that slowing down and that need to pause. And so we’ve got to respect that both of those are necessary on our path. And, and recognize, right this timing of your path that when the path reveals itself, follow it. And you just gotta trust that when like, if you’re in a pause, you just gotta trust that when the timing is right, you will understand that. So sometimes that is with a job opportunity, sometimes that’s the promotion or in a with a family event. But that trust can be hard, and we tend to try and control things, which is our next solution.

Dr. Melissa Smith 15:35
Solution three, relinquish rigid control, if you tend to be a control freak, or perfectionistic, moving along your path can be so painful, because you tend to have really rigid expectations about how your life should be proceeding. So you know, you might believe that there are these discreet timelines, by which certain things should be accomplished. And you know, when or if you don’t hit those marks, you may feel as though you have failed. And so you know, you can put a ton of pressure on yourself. And, you know, this is such a recipe for misery. And the truth is, this is actually not the way that life works. This is, this is not how life functions. For most of us. It’s only the way your rigid, obsessed mind works. And there’s a big difference there. So we have these rigid expectations. And then we have life, that if you’re holding yourself to these rigid expectations, you’re going to be pretty disappointed in yourself. And you’re going to be pretty unhappy with yourself and with life if you’re not careful. And so, we want to recognize that control is a false substitute for trust. So we want to relinquish control and learn to lean into trust. So trust your ability to progress on your path. Trust your ability to pursue what truly matters. Trust that as you quiet yourself, learn to listen to what is most important to you, that you can accomplish your goals step by step, and that the mountain is not going anywhere, it’s gonna be there. And that it’s there guiding your way, always. And I think that that can actually be very reassuring. The mountain is not going anywhere, anywhere. So this is the other thing, there are beautiful views along the path. But you won’t know that if you never stop occasionally to look around. You know, if you’re just if you just got your your head down, staring at the path in front of you, the view never changes. Right? You just see the dirt path, you just see your feet. But if you slow down, if you stop, occasionally look around. There are some beautiful views along the path.

Dr. Melissa Smith 18:19
Okay, solution four. Hold your dreams lightly. Don’t grip them too tightly. It’s important to have dreams. But be clear about why you have those dreams, and why it’s important to pursue them. So why really, really matters. So what are your dreams about? Are the dreams about feeding ego? are they serving a false identity? Are they meant to help you feel whole and complete and lovable? So what are your dreams serving? If your dreams are used to prop up self worth, I promise you they will be crushed under the weight of your expectations. Because dreams were never meant to hold the worth of a man or a woman. They aren’t designed for that. And yet when we foist our identity needs, or ego onto our dreams, we become desperate to accomplish our dreams. We start hustling for our worth. We start collecting badges. And if we don’t accomplish our dreams, we we believe we’re worthless. Right and this is a really heavy burden for our dreams and our goals. And so in this way in these ways we grip our dreams too tightly and run the risk of strangling them, and really allowing our dreams to ruin our lives. And so obviously, we do not want to do this. So we want you to let your dreams be about serving a higher purpose, about contributing to the world in meaningful ways. Not about propping up your poor self worth dreams were not meant to make you feel better about yourself. Okay, now that might feel really confusing to you. Because it’s like, aren’t dreams supposed to make me feel better about myself? No, they’re not. Dreams are about helping you progress on your path to purpose. Dreams are about helping you contribute to the world. Okay, hold your dreams lightly. If you don’t accomplish a goal. You know, it’s not because you’re not good enough. Perhaps it’s because another goal became more important. Maybe it’s because your path led you in another direction. Maybe you didn’t put in the consistent work required to be successful. But it’s not because you weren’t good enough. So self worth has got to go in a vault when it comes to your dreams. So hold your dreams lightly. Don’t let them ruin your life. Don’t let them haunt you, or hunt you down or bully you. You fuel your dreams. Your purpose, your vision, fuels your dreams. Don’t let your dreams fool you. When you hold your dreams too tightly, you have to prove something through the accomplishing of dreams, you run the risk of obliterating others, undermining values, and destroying purpose in the pursuit of a goal. So the way you pursue goals really, really matters and matters a lot. So don’t ever lose sight of your higher purpose in the pursuit of your dream. So in this way, you won’t ever let your dreams ruin your life. So this is why I feel so strongly about this three part podcast series because most people just jump right in to New Year’s resolutions. And they pick goals that really have no foundation underneath them. They’re like, Okay, I guess I’ll do this. And they don’t have any tie to whether it’s an effective goal, which is what we will talk about next week. And it doesn’t have any tie to purpose and to what really matters to the individual. And so is it any wonder that those new year’s resolutions are not successful. And so we really want to make sure our goals are connected to higher purpose, and then that those goals are lined up in a way that you can be successful in accomplishing them.

Dr. Melissa Smith 23:30
Okay, solution five, be open to chance and opportunity. So this definitely goes hand in hand with this idea of not being too rigid. But, you know, part of the winding path is the value of being open to chance and opportunity. If you are so rigidly planned, you won’t be open to opportunities that could propel you along your path. I mean, right, we know the path is full of twists and turns, maybe you’ll meet a moose. And that will require you to take a left turn when you were planning to take a right turn, Bo beat something else along the path. And that will actually provide an opportunity that you weren’t anticipating and that could help propel you along your path. So have an open heart. Be open to learning be open to growth, and recognize that everyone and everything on your path has something to teach you. So just a word about networks. Don’t be rigid about your networks, the most successful networkers have nimble and fluid networks. So that is that they have connections across organizations, business units, geographical regions, and socio economic status. So you know, life is just so big, and so be open to opportunities. And then what I would also say is be the opportunity for others, you know, look for ways that you can help other people. When you see someone along the path, see how you can help them.

Dr. Melissa Smith 25:11
My husband, earlier this year, he was doing a self supported bike ride down in southern Utah. And he was he was doing well, but it was a really long ride. And he was doing it all alone. And he was sitting under a tree resting one day trying to get like, a tiny bit of shade, and a really hot desert. And a couple drove by. And, you know, they said hello, and had a nice little visit, and then they drove past. And then I think he said about five minutes later, they drove back. And they offered him a cold bottle of water for him. And you know, he had warm water. And he he was sufficient, he had sufficient for his needs. But of course, he accepted the water and thanked them. And then they went on, on their way. And he, you know, as he talked about his trip, with people who asked him, he mentioned that a couple coming back and giving him the cold water bottle every single time, because it made such a huge difference to him. Not only did the water tastes great, because it was ice cold. But it was so thoughtful of this couple to turn back around and bring him this water, that it was so considerate, it was so compassionate. And it really did give him the boost that he needed to finish his journey and to, to finish strong. And so, you know, be the opportunity for others and be the good for others along the path that can make a huge difference. And you never know how you can influence others for good.

Dr. Melissa Smith 27:20
Solution six, be humble and say yes to life. So we know that the path will leave you marred and it will leave you muddy because life is just challenging. It’s a great teacher. And if you can be humble, you will learn the lessons well. So accept what is. Say yes to life. And this includes saying yes to the failure and the successes, because you definitely will have both as you progress along your path. So I want you to ask yourself, what does this experience have to teach me? What can I learn from this? How can this help me on my path? And these questions can be hard to ask, especially when you feel like you felt these can be painful questions, but they can be so helpful for shifting your perspective. Challenge defensiveness, ask yourself, What am I defending against? What am I protecting against? Why do I assume I have to be perfect? Why do I assume no one else has ever felt. acknowledge your feelings. So it’s okay to be disappointed with failure. It’s okay to feel devastated even it’s okay to feel sad and embarrassed. So be compassionate with yourself and find someone who can be compassionate with you as well. It’s so important to be able to have someone who can be understanding with you in those moments. And then bring in some perspective, climbing a mountain is going to involve some scrapes along the way. And recognizing that failing is a necessary component of growth can actually help like just recognizing like, Okay, this is the cost of doing business. Like I cannot get up the mountain without tripping and falling. And recognizing this failing is part of that process. And if you can, if you can accept that that’s part of the process, then I have total trust that you will fail forward. Right and failing forward is a recognition that we will all stumble, we will all fail. But if you can learn the lessons and use that to help propel your growth that You failed forward, right? Because you’ve used that to help you to grow. And that’s huge. And that can help shift your perspective and, and really ensure that you can grow as a result of those challenging experiences.

Dr. Melissa Smith 30:18
Okay, and then finally, celebrate your successes. So take time to rest and recalibrate. Recovery and renewal are so essential. So find others who can celebrate with you. And be wary of those who might compete with you. Because that’s the last thing you need. It’s really not helpful and it erodes trust, but find those who can celebrate with you find those who want your good, and, and be be one that can celebrate the success of others.

Dr. Melissa Smith 30:55
Okay, so I hope that this podcast has been helpful for you for really making sense of the path and clarifying, you know, the essential role of goals and dreams, but also keeping them in proper perspective so that they do not ruin your life, because obviously, we don’t want that to happen. And it really is a question of keeping them in proper perspective. So make sure you head on over to my website to check out the show notes with all the great resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-35. One more time, that’s www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-35. And there you can find the links to the resources that I have there, including a link to sign up for a great e course I’m so excited about this, we have an ecourse called confidence to lead that we are going to be launching a little bit later this year. And so if you like some of what you’re hearing, with this three part podcast series, you are going to love confidence to lead lead it is a deep dive into everything you need to help you lead confidently in love and work and it’s awesome. And so you can check out that link and sign up for that waitlist so you can hear about the launch of that course. First thing you can hear updates about that. And then also there’s a link to the pursue what matters podcast one, where we go over the details of purpose.

Dr. Melissa Smith 32:58
So if you want a refresher on that, and then of course on the the link to the podcast last week, which was part one of preparing for 2020 so you can check that all out at the show notes which is at www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-35 I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.

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